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  #1  
Old 02-14-2017, 10:32 PM
baanotdorky baanotdorky is offline
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Default Take Another Exam or Learn Programming Language?

Hello! I'm new here so sorry if this isn't the right place to ask this...

I have worked a non-actuarial office job for two years now and recently decided to pursue becoming an actuary. Understanding that as a career changer I would need to find ways to stand out (and trying to follow advice already posted on this forum) I decided to complete exams as quickly as I could and since November 2016 have passed P, FM and C.

Currently, I am signed up to take MFE in March, but am wondering if it would be better to stop taking exams for a couple months and spend the time networking, practicing interview skills, and picking up a technical skill (either R or VBA). As it stands, I have used VBA, R, C++ and Stata in classes during college or on simple projects, but haven't used any of them in the past two years and wouldn't put them on my resume. The best answer might be "all of the above!" but honestly with a full time job I know that if I prepare for MFE in March there will be absolutely no time for anything else.

The short version of my question: would a fourth exam or adding a technical skill such as VBA give me a better chance at landing an interview/job offer for entry level positions?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 02-14-2017, 10:38 PM
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Abelian Grape Abelian Grape is offline
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The marginal value added by "knowing" SQL/VBA from next to nothing beats having a fourth exam, IMO. Although given your good track record of passing the first 3 exams so quickly, if you can pass MFE by July (let alone March) while picking up the basics of the main languages, it'd look really good.
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Old 02-14-2017, 10:40 PM
MooBeay MooBeay is offline
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I say exam.
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Old 02-14-2017, 10:50 PM
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Vorian Atreides Vorian Atreides is offline
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If you need to learn a particular tool/language, you'll generally have company time to do that. Not necessarily the same for study time for Exams.


The question to ask is "what sort of actuarial career do you really want?" . . . which field of practice (P&C, L/H, ERM, etc.) do you want to target?

Given how "fast" the curriculum for both Societies are changing, you might find greater value getting all of the prelims done and then alternating between ASA modules and ACAS Online Courses as a way to bring you closer to those letters until you land a particular job after prelims are all tackled.
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Old 02-14-2017, 11:13 PM
baanotdorky baanotdorky is offline
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Thank you all for the input. My gut was telling me the practical skills would be more helpful, but I hadn't considered that companies might be OK training someone with no experience in a particular tool/language. The whole reason I have this question is because I filled out a job application yesterday that had a check box: "I have basic programming skills such as VBA, R or another language." When I failed to check that box I imagined my application going straight to the trash.

Vorian, to be honest I have no idea which field of practice I want to go into. If I put off MFE until July one of the things I would do is try to reach out to actuaries in my area to gain some perspective on what is out there.
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Old 02-15-2017, 12:11 AM
R3d Anonymous R3d Anonymous is offline
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Why not both?
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Old 02-15-2017, 01:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R3d Anonymous View Post
Why not both?
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ASM does not have a discussion of stimulation, but considering how boring the manual is, maybe it would be a good idea.
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Old 02-15-2017, 04:27 AM
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If you have just an inkling of technical skills and have passed 3 or more exams, then checking off one more programming language or exam won't help you that much in this field. Those are not the problem.

At that point one should focus on being more interesting than a potato in interviews.

-Riley
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Old 02-15-2017, 07:37 AM
Westley Westley is offline
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Riley said it won't help "in this field" - I assume he was responding to the specific question above, which is getting hired. Agree.

If comment was meant to apply to "in this field" broadly, then exam. You have to pass them eventually.
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Old 02-15-2017, 08:06 AM
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Really, learning VBA at the level employers will expect doesn't take more than a few days. You can do this and also study for an exam, it's very doable.

If you learned the following in VBA you'd be ahead of the game in my opinion
Know how to record a macro and run that macro later
Know how to open the visual basic editor
Know how to write a sub that creates a message box that says hello world
Know how to write a function that takes an input of a number and adds 1 to it
Write a macro that pastes the number 10 into cell B5
Write a macro that loops through 10 cells and pastes numbers in them

No one's going to expect substantially more than that. Bonus points for learning what an event macro is and how to write one (get a macro to trigger when someone changes a cell, for example).

Once you know the above it's easy enough to play around and learn how to do other basic things. Just need to learn the basic loops and syntax for referencing cells.
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